Queens men 24 years prison, They Spent 24 Years Behind Bars.
Three men who spent the past 24 years behind bars for the double slaying of an off-duty NYPD cop and Queens businessman were ordered freed from prison Friday — after a judge ruled they were wrongfully convicted.
The Queens District Attorney’s Office and defense lawyers for Rohan Bolt, 59, George Bell, 44, and Gary Johnson 46, had filed a joint motion to overturn the men’s convictions after concluding that previous prosecutors brazenly withheld evidence implicating another suspect.
“For the past two decades and a half, I rose each day to view the cell bars … and would say to myself, ‘Today is the day I will find the key, today is the day I am going home,’” said Bell, who appeared virtually from upstate New York’s Green Haven Correctional Facility, alongside Bolt and Johnson, shortly before their murder convictions were vacated Friday. “I never gave up on my dream.”
Bell, then 19, and Johnson, then 22, both worked at Old Navy and had no criminal records when cops picked them up for the Dec. 21, 1996, killing of off-duty police Detective Charles Davis and businessman Ira “Mike” Epstein.
A small-time marijuana dealer had named Bell and Johnson as his cohorts in the botched robbery-turned-murder — although no physical evidence ever connected the three convicted men to the brutal crime.
Charles worked as Epstein’s bodyguard at his check-cashing store on Astoria Boulevard, and both men were shot dead after they opened the shop that morning.